Hospital changes during the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a deprivation of medical care for patients with endocrinological diseases requiring close follow-up care, including medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), according to a study published in the Archives of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Prior to the pandemic, only 22% of endocrinology patients did not complete their disease-related medical procedures (DRMPs). During the pandemic, however, the medical deprivation rate of patients was 81%, indicating that only 19% of patients could complete their disease-related medical procedure during that period.

The medical deprivation rate for patients with MTC was better than the overall group, with only 67% of patients not completing their procedures. The number of patients with MTC in the study was also low, however, at only 6.


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“It is well known that early diagnosis and treatment improve outcomes and affect survival in MTC,” the authors said. “Therefore, performing the necessary procedures as soon as possible was recommended in these patients.”

Despite these recommendations, the patients in the study who planned to have resurgery or peptide-receptor radionuclide therapy with 177Lu did not complete the procedure during the pandemic period. Subsequent examinations after the pandemic found that these patients’ calcitonin levels had significantly increased.

Of the 2 patients with MTC who completed their disease-related medical procedure during the pandemic, 1 was a patient who was newly diagnosed with MTC in the prepandemic period and had normal calcitonin levels. The other was a patient who only attended the hospital for follow-up care.

“In conclusion, the [medical deprivation rates] that we found were quite high in endocrinological patients during the pandemic period, although a social health policy provides comprehensive health insurance for all citizens in Turkey,” the authors said.

The study included a total of 855 endocrinology patients with active disease or who still needed multidisciplinary approaches during the pandemic. There were 594 cases of thyroid disease, including MTC (n=6), calcium-bone metabolism disorders (n=130), adrenal diseases (n=85), pituitary diseases (n=43), and neuroendocrine tumors (n=46).

Reference

Bozkur E, Turgut S, Pamuk N, et al. The effect of COVID-19 process on patients with endocrinological disease in a pandemic hospital: what happened to the others? Arch Endocrinol Metab. Published online October 11, 2022. doi:10.20945/2359-3997000000525